Posts tagged with "Netflix"

Netflix just made a $5 billion pro wrestling deal

January 24, 2024

For years, Netflix insisted that  it didn’t want to get into live sports. Now, it’s in “live sports entertainment” via a $5 billion pro wrestling deal with TKO, reports Business Insider.

One big reason the deal could work: Netflix wasn’t in the ads business. Now it is.

In 2025, a new $5 billion, ten-year deal with TKO Group will kick in and bring Raw, the weekly WWE pro wrestling show currently airing on Comcast‘s USA Network, to Netflix in the United States and other countries.

And outside the United States, TKO will also bring some of its biggest one-off events, like Wrestlemania and SummerSlam to Netflix, where they’ll be included in the price of a basic subscription.

In the near term, the deal means U.S. wrestling fans will find some of the stuff they like on Netflix and some on Comcast’s Peacock service. Peacock has a TKO deal for events like Wrestlemania that runs through March 2026.

A big change

When Netflix used to insist that it didn’t see value in live sports, it would point out that the biggest reason programmers pay for live sports is because live sports are huge draws for advertisers. And Netflix wasn’t in the advertising business.

But that changed in the spring of 2022 when Netflix announced that it had lost subscribers for the first time in more than a decade. And, after insisting for years that it wasn’t going to have advertising, the company was going to launch an ad-supported version of its service.

Ever since then, industry observers have assumed Netflix would get into sports one way or another. And that same year, Netflix bid on the U.S. rights for Formula 1 racing— a deal that eventually went to ESPN.

At the same time, Netflix has been experimenting with one-off live events, like a Chris Rock comedy special or a golf tournament it made up called The Netflix Cup.

So: Ads? Check. Soft launch of live capabilities? Check.

The last thing Netflix needed to make a sports deal make sense? The ability to say it wasn’t just “renting” sports but something closer to ownership.

That’s not completely happening here, but it’s kind of close: As noted above, some of TKO’s rights are owned by Netflix competitors in the United States and abroad. And this deal is a rights deal—not an outright purchase.

On the other hand: It’s a ten-year deal that Netflix can extend by another ten years, if it’s going well (or bail after five if it’s not).

Just as important: While the main asset in the United States is access to a single weekly live show, it certainly gives Netflix the ability to build other, on-demand programming around the WWE and its wrestlers. And outside the United States, Netflix will have much more than Raw—including its major annual events like Wrestlemania.

So, Netflix doesn’t completely own pro wrestling. But it owns enough to make a $5 billion deal that looks like it could make sense.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider

Geico Gecko serves as on-set consultant for Netflix’s ‘Leo’ in co-branded ads

December 1, 2023

Netflix is running the first custom creative campaign for its ad-supported tier in partnership with Geico, according to news shared with Marketing Dive.

The effort pairs the insurance firm’s Gecko mascot with Leo the lizard, who is the protagonist of the streamer’s new animated film “Leo” starring Adam Sandler.

The reptilian duo appear together in a 30-second spot that shows the Geico Gecko doling out on-set advice.

Creative includes TV and online video ads, out-of-home placements, and social media elements. Through the deal, Netflix is adapting a co-branded marketing strategy that it views as key to unlocking future growth: About a year after launching its ad-supported tier, Netflix is experimenting with co-branded partnerships that could appeal to marketers trying to strengthen the connection between their products and the streamer’s original programming.

The “Leo” campaign—which launched November 21 around the film’s release and runs through the end of December— shows Netflix tapping into a playbook that’s previously helped drive engagement but with the addition of more traditional commercials.

Past co-branded Netflix marketing initiatives include Domino’s work with “Stranger Things” and Old Spice’s collaborations with “The Witcher.” Geico’s tie-in with “Leo” is different because the ads actually run on Netflix, giving the insurance firm a more direct line to viewers.

“Bringing the iconic Geico Gecko together with the new reptile on the block Leo, is a great example of delivering more entertaining ad experiences for members and more contextually relevant messages for advertisers,” said Magno Herran, Netflix vice president of Marketing Partnerships, in a statement. “While this is the first, we look forward to building more of these opportunities for our brand partners and members.”

The new ads, which were developed with creative studio Framestore and animation experts Animal Logic, depict the Geico Gecko as an on-set consultant giving his scaly peer Leo tips, including vocal warmup routines; and finding the right lighting for a shot. Leo, who’s portrayed as an advice-giver in the movie, eventually laments that he’ll have to get up early to repeat the process the next day.

“Leo” stands as the biggest debut for an animated film on Netflix, attracting 34.6 million views within six days of premiering. The Adam Sandler vehicle landed at the front of the pack for the service’s English-language top ten list.

Netflix’s ad-supported tier earlier this month reached 15 million active monthly users, the streamer said. The offering is a priority for Netflix as the focus in the streaming category shifts from subscriber growth to profitability.

Research contact: @marketingdive

‘Squid Game’ in real life? The competition is coming to L.A.—and you can be part of it

)ctober 31, 2023

When Squid Game: The Trials opens in Los Angeles this December, the immersive experience will have two lofty goals: one, to reflect the tense themes of the hit South Korean series in what is essentially designed to be a fun day or night out; and two, to ensure that at least one of the show’s subject matters—exploitation—isn’t present, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Crippling debt, financial desperation, and a general lack of prospects in all aspects of life were at the heart of Netflix’s global sensation, Squid Game. A mix of hopelessness, vulnerability and class warfare led the show’s participants to take part in a series of life-or-death challenges.

The stakes won’t, of course, be as high at Squid Game: The Trials, in which guests will opt-in for a series of simple-to-learn, excruciating-to-win games. Everyone walks out alive, but scores will be kept, no money will be won and, if all goes according to plan, everybody will likely be just a little bit poorer.

Designers of the immersive experience promise the series’ taut themes will be present and will be handled in such a way as to make sure that those who buy in don’t end up feeling like they’ve been had. The company says that Squid Game: The Trials promises a mix of theatricality, technology, and food, the latter courtesy of the acclaimed culinary team of downtown’s Yangban.

The experience, created in conjunction with experiential entertainment firm Superfly, will launch December 6. Don’t expect the equivalent of going to the gym, says Netflix. The goal is to bring guests lightly into Squid Game’s harsh world. To that end, Netflix will be hoping players buy Squid Game-inspired tracksuits to wear, which will allow for the look of the show to be replicated. And some games will be purely intellectual. Squid Game: The Trials will be hosted at the Television City complex, near the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles.

“We don’t want it to be purely based on a series of physical challenges,” says Josh Simon, Netflix’s VP of Consumer Products. “When you think of the gameplay, some of them skew a little more psychological. Some of them end up being individual. Some of them end up being more of a team. They might be with a team of people you showed up with, or you might be forced to work with a team of people you’re unfamiliar with. We’re trying to introduce more epic moral dilemmas into the equation.”

Although Netflix is keeping the full list of games close to its vest, expect some Squid Game staples, such as the series’ twist on childhood stop-and-go game Red Light, Green Light to appear. Concept art shared with The Times shows a re-creation of that game’s Young-hee doll, in the show a killer, motion-sensing animatronic. The event will intermix challenges from the first season of “Squid Game” as well as the upcoming unscripted series. There will also be some games and challenges that are created exclusively for the experience.

Still, Simon says the goal is to have zero physical fitness requirements. However, the experience is designed for those ages 13 and older. Those younger than 13 will not be admitted. “We want to keep it as broadly accessible as possible,” he says.

For most days, tickets will be sold throughout the day in 30-minute increments, with entry points on some as early as 10 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m. Each player will be outfitted with a wristband featuring radio frequency identification technology, a first for Netflix’s immersive experiences. The band will keep score, and a winner for each group will be announced.

“We’ve developed a point system,” Simon says. “People will accumulate points as we go through. One winner will be crowned atop a leaderboard. We want to play with some of that really great iconography from the series.”

Simon was asked about how the experience will deal with some of the series’ darker elements. “There’s only so much tension and the stakes of the show that we would personally want guests to experience,” Simon says. “But the psychological stakes of it—especially when you’re in these environments—really start to feel elevated. We’ve developed a lot of fun concepts that I think will keep people slightly off guard throughout the experience. There’s a mystery, and some psychological intrigue that we’re going to introduce.”

Netflix says the games should last about 70 minutes, and said they will be designed as a “series of escalating challenges.” There will be a total of six games. In addition to Young-hee, Squid Game’s  masked antagonist the Front Man will figure heavily into the event and, “obviously, the guards, in a variety of sort of pink jumpsuits will be throughout,” Simon says.

Tickets for Squid Game: The Trials are on sale now through January 31. They start at $39 for midweek trials and increase to $54 on the weekends. A VIP experience also is available for $99.

Research contact: @latimes

Netflix drops cheapest basic ad-free option in the USA and UK

July 20, 2023

Netflix has gotten rid of its cheapest commercial-free plan in the United States and the United Kingdom in a push to get more sign-ups for its recently launched ad-supported option, reports CNBC

On its plans and pricing page, which outlines all subscriber options, Netflix notes that the basic plan—which costs $9.99 and does not feature ads—will no longer be available to new or rejoining members. Current subscribers of the plan won’t be affected unless they choose to change plans or cancel.

The move leaves Netflix’s standard with-ads plan, which is priced at $6.99 a month, as its cheapest option. The standard and premium plans without ads cost $15.49 and $19.99, respectively, a month.

During last quarter’s earnings call, Netflix Chief Financial Officer Spencer Neumann said the “economics” of its ad-supported plan were higher than the basic plan. “It’s actually even higher than our standard plan,” he said during the call, adding that advertising was incremental to both its revenue and profit.

Former Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings admitted late last year that he was slow to embracing advertising on the streaming platform because he was so focused on digital competition from tech companies. Shortly after, co-CEO Ted Sarandos said during an investor conference that Netflix was likely to offer multiple ad-supported tiers over time.

Netflix, similar to other media companies, has been looking boost streaming profits, and advertising has been considered a key step toward making that happen.

Similarly, Disney CEO Bob Iger has said the company is leaning into its ad-supported streaming option to get to profitability.

Netflix launched the ad tier late last year. Similar to its recent crackdown on password sharing, the plan was introduced after Netflix saw subscriber growth stagnate and looked to other options to boost revenue.

In May, Netflix told advertisers that it had five million monthly active users for the ad tier, and 25% of new customers were signing up for the plan where it’s available.

Research contact: @CNBCnow

Ready to rock: Netflix sets first live-streamed event with Chris Rock special

November 14, 2022

Netflix will stream an event live for the first time next year, with comedian Chris Rock hosting a real-time special for the on-demand platform that has lured millions of viewers away from traditional broadcast television, reports Yahoo.

The standup show—which will be Rock’s second for Netflix after 2018’s “Chris Rock: Tamborine,”—will be available to watch in early 2023, the company said, without providing further details.

“Chris Rock is one of the most iconic and important comedic voices of our generation,” said Netflix Comedy VP Robbie Praw, in a statement. “We’re thrilled the entire world will be able to experience a live Chris Rock comedy event and be a part of Netflix history.

Praw added, “This will be an unforgettable moment and we’re so honored that Chris is carrying this torch.”

Netflix, which lost subscribers for the first time earlier this year before recently reporting a return to growth, has been experimenting with new models, including a cheaper subscription option subsidized by advertisements.

On Tuesday, November 8, The Wall Street Journal reported that Netflix was looking into offering live sports on its platform for the first time. Rivals including Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video already offer live events, including sports and musical events.

Netflix hosts a live comedy festival at more than 35 venues in Los Angeles, but those shows have not yet been available to stream live on its platform.

Rock, one of the world’s biggest comics, drew headlines in March when he was slapped on-stage by Will Smith at the Oscars.

Research contact: @Yahoo

Everything we know about Jerry Seinfeld’s Pop-Tart movie

June 20, 2022

Hollywood is never afraid to give us movies with origin stories that we never asked for: That’s how we got the Jennifer Lawrence vehicle “Joy” about the creation of a mop and Ben Affleck’s newly announced movie about Nike’s marketing team.

What more could we ask for? Up next is a story about the creation of the Pop-Tart—titled “Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story,” and helmed by legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who will co-write, direct, produce, and star in the film, reports Bustle.

Announced in the summer of 2021 by “Deadline,” the film is being produced by Netflix at a  reported $70 million budget and now boasts a cast full of A-List stars—among them, Melissa McCarthy, Jim Gaffigan, Amy Schumer, Hugh Grant, and James Marsden.

 Seinfeld got the idea from a 1963 rivalry between two rival Michigan cereal companies, Kellogg’s and Post, to create a new pastry that “will change the face of breakfast forever.”

 The film is described as “a tale of ambition, betrayal, sugar, and menacing milkmen” in the press release, promising a hearty dose of comedy. After all, it’s inspired by Seinfeld’s 2020 Beacon Theatre standup special, in which he waxed philosophic about his love for Pop-Tarts

Seinfeld co-wrote the film with “Seinfeld” alum Spike Feresten and comedian Barry Marder, and told Deadline, “Stuck at home watching endless sad faces on TV, I thought this would be a good time to make something based on pure silliness. So we took my Pop-Tart stand-up bit from my last Netflix special and exploded it into a giant, crazy comedy movie.”

Production is expected to start later this year—meaning, we can expect to see the film on the streamer sometime in 2023. No trailer or teasers have been released at this time.

 Research contact: @bustle

Netflix plans real-life Squid Game reality TV show with $4.56 million prize, no deaths

June 16, 2022

Netflix is recruiting participants for a reality TV show inspired by its most popular series of all time, Squid Game—which was streamed by 111 million users during the first 28 days of its launch—reports the BBC.

However, it will not be life or death that is at stake, as depicted in the South Korean dystopian drama. Instead, 456 recruits from around the world will play games for which “the worst fate is going home empty-handed”— missing out on a $4.56 million (£3.8m) prize.

Netflix also confirmed that the popular series would be renewed for a second season earlier this week.

On Wednesday, June 15, the platform announced that its new ten-episode series—Squid Game: The Challenge—would offer the “largest cast and lump cash prize in reality TV history”.

“As [players] compete through a series of games inspired by the original show—plus surprising new additions—their strategies, alliances, and character will be put to the test while competitors are eliminated around them,” the release added.

Participants must be at least 21 years old. They must speak English  and be available for up to four weeks in early 2023 for filming.

The 456 participants are a nod to the fictional series, which features the same number of players, with its main protagonist Seong Gi-hun also referred to as Player 456.

Director, writer, and executive producer of Squid Game Hwang Dong-hyuk said in a statement on Monday, June 13: “It took 12 years to bring the first season of Squid Game to life last year. But it took 12 days for Squid Game to become the most popular Netflix series ever.”

Research contact: @BBC

Netflix cancels Meghan Markle’s animated series, ‘Pearl’

May 4, 2022

Netflix has cancelled development of “Pearl,” an animated series created by Meghan Markle, in its move to cut costs. The show, which was announced last year, is one of several projects being dropped by the streaming giant, reports the BBC.

Last month, Netflix revealed a sharp fall in subscribers and warned millions more are set to quit the service. That wiped over US$50 billion off the company’s market value as experts warned it faced a struggle to get back on track.

Archewell Productions, the company formed by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced last year that Meghan would be an executive producer of Pearl. The series was planning to center on the adventures of a 12-year-old girl, who is inspired by influential women from history.

Netflix did, however, confirm that it will continue to work on a number of projects with Archewell Productions, including a documentary series called Heart of Invictus. The series will focus on athletes competing in the Invictus Games for injured veterans, an event founded by Prince Harry, in The Hague in 2022.

Archewell Productions did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment.

Research contact: @BBC

Obamas to end exclusive deal with Spotify

April 22, 2022

Higher Ground, the media company started by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, is ending its exclusive podcast deal with Spotify and is shopping for other partners in the podcasting space, reports Variety.

The Obamas are exiting their exclusive pact with Spotify, originally inked in 2019, after being frustrated with the company’s exclusive terms: They want to have their podcast programming distributed as widely as possible, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

Higher Ground also has disagreed with Spotify over how many of its shows would feature the former POTUS and FLOTUS, as first reported by reported by Bloomberg.

Higher Ground’s current deal with Spotify runs through October. According to one source, Spotify declined to make an offer to renew the agreement.

Podcasts that Higher Ground has produced for Spotify will continue to launch on the streaming platform through the fall, according to the Bloomberg report. But the company is currently in talks with other audio distribution companies, including Amazon-owned Audible and iHeartMedia, in hopes of reaching a nonexclusive deal for its podcast content.

Higher Ground’s first podcast for Spotify was “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” released in mid-2020, which at one point had ranked as the most-listened-to Spotify original to date. The company also produced “Renegades: Born in the USA,” a series of conversations between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, released on Spotify last year.

In January, Higher Ground’s “The Big Hit Show,” focused on transformational moments of pop culture, premiered on Spotify. The company also released “Tell Them, I Am,” a podcast collection of universal stories from Muslim voices on the platform.

Spotify will retain certain distribution rights to “The Michelle Obama Podcast” and other Higher Ground shows in perpetuity. In addition, wherever the Obamas take their next podcast deal, it is likely that those new projects would be distributed on Spotify on a nonexclusive basis.

Separately, Higher Ground has a pact to produce films and TV shows exclusively for Netflix. The company’s first film, “American Factory,” won the 2019 Oscar for best documentary feature.

Reps for both Spotify and Higher Ground declined to comment.

Research contact: @Variety

Netflix may offer lower-priced, ad-supported plans

April 21, 2022

After years of resisting the idea of running advertisements on its streaming service, Netflix now is “open” to offering lower-priced tiers with ads, co-CEO Reed Hastings said on Tuesday, April 19, reports CNBC.

Hastings has long been opposed to adding commercials or other promotions to the platform, but said during the company’s prerecorded earnings conference call that it “makes a lot of sense” to offer customers a cheaper option.

“Those who have followed Netflix know that I have been against the complexity of advertising and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription,” Hastings said. “But as much as I am a fan of that, I am a bigger fan of consumer choice, and allowing consumers who would like to have a lower price and are advertising-tolerant to get what they want makes a lot of sense.”

The option likely wouldn’t be available on the service for a year or two, Hastings said. A new ad-supported tier has a lot of profit potential for Netflix, which on Tuesday reported its first subscriber loss in more than a decade.

Netflix cited growing competition from recent streaming launches by traditional entertainment companies, as well as rampant password sharing, inflation. and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine for the recent stall in paid subscriptions.

In an effort to lure more subscribers, Netflix has increased its content spend, particularly on originals. To pay for it, the company hiked prices of its service. Netflix said those price changes are helping to bolster revenue but were partially responsible for a loss of 600,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada during the most recent quarter.

A lower-tier option that includes advertisements could keep some price-conscious consumers with the service and provide Netflix with a different avenue to garner funds.

“It’s pretty clear that it’s working for Hulu. Disney is doing it. HBO did it,” Hastings said. “I don’t think we have a lot of doubt that it works.”

Research contact: @CNBC